Greek Chicken & Garlic Cream Sauce

Sometimes I surprise myself.

Last week my mother-in-law, who works at the local jail, was talking about an interesting little kerfuffle going on between the two food vendors that supply the jail’s kitchen.  Basically, one vendor decided that he wanted to compete a bit more…uh…competitively…with the other.  So he decided to start slinging his chicken breast for $1.18 a pound.  Basically, what this meant for everyone who worked there, including my mother-in-law and, by association, me, was that we were being given the opportunity to purchase forty pounds of chicken breast for forty-seven dollars.  That, friends,  is what this housewife calls a damn good deal.

It took a while to process all that chicken breast, wrap it, and get it into my freezer, but my husband was very happy that we were now the proud owners of forty-four chicken breasts.  He loves chicken, my husband.  Sadly, he doesn’t get much of it because yours truly has a bit of an issue with commercially marketed meat.  We get all of our beef from a local farmer.  Actually, we mooch a lot of it off my dad and stepmom, who buy a half a cow’s worth of meat from said farmer and are always willing to float us some hamburger and roasts.  In any case, there’s the local beef.  We tend not to eat much pork, so when we do I’ll usually buy it at the better deli here in town and feel okay about it.  But I’ve yet to find a chicken hookup.  Well, I know that this chicken – especially at this price – is not likely to be the pasture-raised chicken I’d like to be eating.  But we’re are a single income family now, and at $1.18 a pound I couldn’t turn it down.  So our days of chicken drought are over.  At least until this vendor stops feeling competitive.

In any case, I’ve been faced for the past week or so with an overabundance of chicken and not a lot of ideas for what to do with it.  As I may have mentioned, we eat a lot of beef but chicken…not so much.  I have my old go-to recipes, but they’re boring and, not being a huge chicken fan myself, I just couldn’t get motivated to cook any of them.  I wanted something new.  I wanted something really, really tasty.  I wanted to go to The Plaza for dinner.  They serve fabulous Greek food.  We can’t really afford to go there without a good reason.

But I am a cook, even though I tend to cook less now than I used to.  So I decided that there was no reason we couldn’t have Greek food tonight.  It would just have to be a German girl cooking it.  The recipe is below, but be aware that I measure very little.  I give the “eyeball” measurements for things like spices and butter, and unless it comes in a package with a measurement on it I really couldn’t tell you the exact ratio of anything to anything I use.  Also, although I enjoy healthy cooking, this is not a healthy recipe.  Well…it is and it isn’t.  It’s rich.  I cook with real cream and butter.  I just don’t eat a bag of chips and drink a Pepsi with my meals.  I tend to cook like they did in the “olden days.”  They weren’t fat – although they also cooked with butter and cream – because they didn’t eat their own weight at each meal and they, you know, moved afterward.  So, yeah.  No need to flame me about how this recipe isn’t based on almonds and water.  Although…almond crusted steamed salmon does sound kind of good…

Greek Chicken with Garlic Cream Sauce

Dice one medium sweet onion and one red bell pepper.  Peel and mince one head of garlic.  Lay out two chicken breasts on a shallow baking dish and season lightly with salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano.  Squeeze the juice of one lemon over them.  Set aside.  Cut two large baking potatoes into a 1″ dice and toss with half of the garlic, just a touch more salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano.  Cut a pint of grape or roma tomatoes in half and set aside.  Wash a handful or two of baby spinach and set aside.

In a large, deep skillet, saute the onion, pepper, and garlic with a small slice of unsalted sweet cream butter.  Saute until onion becomes translucent.  Pour in 1 – 1 1/2 cups* of heavy cream.  Toss in your tomatoes, spinach, and a half teaspoon each of – you guessed it – salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano.  Allow the mixture to simmer so that the cream can reduce to about half.  It should thicken pretty nicely as it does.  While it simmers, arrange your potatoes on the baking sheet around the chicken breasts.  When the cream reaches a good consistency – not too runny – pour it over everything on the sheet and cover.  Bake at 425 about one hour – until your chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165.  Your potatoes should be fork tender by that point.  Sprinkle with some feta cheese or, if your sauce won’t thicken, just throw the feta right in while it simmers.  That should do the trick.  Reserve some feta as a garnish if you like.

My husband does not eat spinach, peppers, or tomatoes.  He generally doesn’t care for potatoes.  He eats all of them when I cook them right can trick him into it.  He ate all of them this evening.  So…

*I used nearly 2 cups of cream (a full pint) and there was a lot of unused cream that got thrown out after baking.  It set up nicely as it cooled, I think because I threw quite a bit of feta directly into the simmering sauce, but by that time I’d already discarded most of the liquid, meaning it had basically been wasted.  I’d recommend cutting it down to 1.5 cups of cream and seeing how much extra you wind up with after baking.  If it’s still too much, then cut it down to 1.  I just think 1 might be too little to properly wilt that much spinach.  But it’s all you, folks.  Consider my recipes nothing more than a jumping off point for negotiations.